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Claremont track ends with second-place league finish

It is literally the last cold day of this long, wet rainy season—and, of course, the COURIER reporter is standing outside at Claremont High School. The weather did not faze the track and field athletes, however, as they competed to qualify for the Palomares League finals under a very threatening sky and a stiff wind.

Well, to be fair, it was in the mid 50s, so just “Southern California cold,” but there was that wind, with drizzle, which forced the hearty fans to bundle up in blankets.

Distance runners apparently like the cold, but the sprinters would prefer it to be a bit warmer, which they will get at the finals with partly cloudy skies and a warm 82 degrees currently being forecast.

The Tuesday afternoon meet was a nonstop frenzy of activities as the five Palomares League teams faced off to determine which athletes would advance to the finals and a chance at earning an individual title. The team title, unfortunately for the Pack, is already in the books as Ayala won a dual meet with Claremont last week, securing that victory.

“Claremont will be second place in league,” Claremont Coach Veronica Amarasekara said. “The meet was at their place, the day after spring break. They were sharp and they were ready. But look out for Claremont next year because we are very young.”

Keeping the whole party moving along was the job of Coach Amarasekara and assistant Jose Ancona, who were holed up in the press box keeping track of all qualifying times and announcing the next race.

Qualifying times varied depending on the event. In all races under 400 meters, ones that use dedicated lanes, only nine athletes advance, the winner of every heat plus the next fastest runners. In races 400 meters and longer, the top two places in each heat get an automatic berth, with the field limited to 12.

Coach Amarasekara noted this can lead to some surprises because if one heat is very fast and another unusually slow, then the second place runner in a slow-laned event might not qualify.

For the field events, such as discus and high jump, only JV held qualifiers.

Claremont varsity qualified seven runners in the 1600 meters; six in the boys 1600; three in the 100-meter hurdles; two in the 110-hurdles; two in the boys 400 meter; one in the boys 100; two in the girls 800; two in the boys 800; three in the boys 300 hurdles; and two in the boys 200. In addition, relay teams and the 3200-meter runners automatically advance.

The finals will take place at CHS on Friday, April 26. The coaches said Claremont has hosted the prelims and the finals for several years because it is less windy than other venues, and the track was recently refurbished.

The finals will be a twilight event with field events starting at 4 p.m. and racing beginning at 5. Most meets start right after school, but the finals are later to give more families a chance to see their students compete.

This weekend the Pack will be competing in the Mt. Sac Relays, which are held at El Camino College due to ongoing renovations to the track at Mount San Antonio College.

 

TEAM ROUND UP: SWIMMING

Claremont High School girls varsity swimming took fourth place out of 32 teams during the Huskies Invitational on Friday and Saturday in Chino Hills. Huskies is a very large regional tournament with 50 to 60 athletes in each event with multiple heats.

Senior Katherine Worsham captured sixth overall out of a field of 50 girls in the 100 breaststroke, and junior Natalya Strash took eighth in the 100 butterfly. Strash’s time was fast enough to qualify for the CIF individual tournament.

Also at the Husky Invite, Toby Jackson took first place in the 100 fly and fourth in the 500 freestyle.

On Monday both the boys and the girls teams got easy wins over Colony, with Claremont taking first in nearly every race.

SOFTBALL

The girls got a big win over Alta Loma, 8-4, on Monday in Claremont. The victory lifted the Pack’s league record to 5-6 and gave the girls temporary hope of making the playoffs when the regular season ends next week.

Claremont came out strong scoring five runs in the fifth inning, then added one run in the second, fourth and fifth. Junior pitcher Kaitlin Entrup had a shut out going into the final inning, but Coach Brian Ota put senior Alexis Jimenez in once the Braves got four hits off Entrup.

Sophomore Sydney Diaz belted three hits, two runs and an RBI, Jimenez also had three hits adding one run and an RBI to her stats. Sophomore Isabelle Rivera had two hits, including a home run, two runs and three RBIs while senior Makayla Romeo had two hits and one RBI. Five girls including Diaz, Rivera, Jimenez, Lauryn Olguin and Madyson hit doubles.

Unfortunately for the Pack they lost a must-win game against Glendora, 6-1, on Wednesday.

The girls had 10 total hits including a double from Rivera, but were unable to translate those chances into runs. Rivera also scored the only run off a hit by Jimenez.

The loss keeps the Pack in fourth place in league standings with a 5-7 record and 9-15 overall. The girls have three games left in the regular season, including an away match against Colony on Friday.

BOYS?VOLLEBALL

The Pack lost home, conference match to first place Los Altos, 3-0, on Tuesday. The undefeated Conquerors had a pretty easy time, winning sets 25-18, 25-17 and 25-22.

Claremont still has a lock on third place, and a berth to the CIF tournament, with a 4-3 record in Hacienda League and one league game left against number two Damien.

BOYS?TENNIS

The Pack easily won three league matches in the last week, 17-1 over Colony, 17-1 over Alta Loma and 14-4 over Bonita. This set up the much anticipated rematch between first-place Claremont and second-place Ayala on Thursday in Chino Hills after press time.

 

First loss doesn’t slow CMS softball team’s strong play

It was a duel between Claremont’s hometown softball teams as Pomona-Pitzer hosted number-five Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for a doubleheader last Friday at Pomona College.

And, as fate would have it, the teams came up with a split decision, with the Sagehens delivering the Athenas their first conference loss in the first game, 4-3, but CMS getting some revenge with a 2-1 win in the second, according to news releases from Pomona-Pitzer and CMS athletics.

The Athenas were behind, 3-1, going into the seventh when freshman Ananya Koneti had a clutch pinch-hit two-run homer to tie the game. However, Pomona-Pitzer won on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh from sophomore Karina Falkstrom, who finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Freshman Megan Otsuka went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run as well.

Sagehens’ senior Liz Rodarte threw a complete game for her 14th victory of the season, giving up three runs and striking out four batters.

Claremont High School graduate, senior Chloe Amarilla was on the mound for CMS during the opening game. She gave up eight hits while walking four and striking out five. Amarilla also hit one of two Athena homeruns and had one RBI.

After the Pomona-Pitzer win, the pressure was on CMS freshman pitcher Lauren Richards, knowing another loss would make the battle for first place in the SCIAC much more difficult heading into the final two weeks. She responded by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and a shutout into the seventh, before settling for the three-hit 2-1 victory.

The Athenas broke the 0-0 tie in the fifth when sophomore third baseman Jessica Fox, who was 3-for-3 in the second game, led off with an infield single. An error put two runners on with nobody out. Sophomore left fielder Molly Spaniac bunted the two runners over, and Fox came home on a wild pitch.

Sophomore Megan Perron then had an RBI single to stretch the lead to 2-0.

In the bottom of the seventh, shortstop Amarilla came up with a diving catch off a line drive for the first out. That play saved the win for CMS because the next batter up, pinch hitter freshman Katy Hurley, hit a solo homer to left field. Amarilla also added another hit and run to her stats.

CMS went on to sweep the University of La Verne in a doubleheader Saturday. The Athenas got a fairly easy 5-1 win in the lead game, but had a tougher time in the second,  winning 7-5.

CMS improved to 27-6 overall and 21-1 in the SCIAC with the two wins, leaving them with a four-game lead on Pomona-Pitzer (17-5) with six games left. They need just two more wins (or Sagehen losses) to guarantee no worse than a tie for first. La Verne falls to 15-19 overall and 11-11 in SCIAC play with the losses. 

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com